Yoko Ono (Cut Piece, Fly, y otros trabajos)



Lennon y Ono durante la navidad del '69 rentaron espacios públicos en 11 ciudades de los EU y colocaron estos anuncios...



"To Be Appreciated Only When It’s Broken"
cast bronze, '65





"Cut Piece" '65





Michael Heizer / Walter de Maria (Land Art/Earth Works)

*Heizer



"North, East, South, West" 1967—2002



"double negative"

Heizer
Essay by Michael Govan

In the mid-1960s, during the same period that Michael Heizer was making large-scale, shaped, "negative" paintings in his New York City studio, he began a series of trips to his home states of Nevada and California to experiment on the expansive raw canvas of the American desert landscape, where he created "negative" sculpture. The genre that he and his colleague Walter De Maria invented there—later dubbed "Earth art" or "Land art"—changed the course of modern art history. Working largely outside the confines of the gallery and the museum, Heizer went on to redefine sculpture in terms of scale, mass, gesture, and process, creating a virtual lexicon of three-dimensional form.

Heizer's Double Negative (1969) comprises two giant rectangular cuts (and the space in between them) in the irregular cliff edges of a tall desert mesa near Overton, Nevada. This monumental piece is iconic of the period and of works made in and of the landscape, as are Robert Smithson's later Spiral Jetty (1970), in Utah, and De Maria's The Lightning Field (1977), in New Mexico. Facing each other in the cliffs on either side of a wide cleft in the mesa, the cuts define rectilinear spaces from which bulldozers have removed the sandstone strata and rock. These spaces, which would roughly absorb the Empire State Building lying on its side, might as aptly be compared to the large-scale feats of modern engineering, or to the monumental earthen architecture of ancient times, as to sculpture. Thus, Heizer's work constitutes a challenge to sculpture's long history.

Although the "sculptural volume" of Double Negative was created by a massive movement of earth, performed with the help of heavy machinery, it isn't physical at all. Instead it is made literally of nothing, of negative space: the volume that traditionally defines a sculpture is described in these works by a void, by absence rather than presence. The first such "negative" form in Heizer's work was North, East, South, West, which the artist produced in wood and sheet metal in 1967, putting two of the four elements, North and South, in the ground in the Sierra Nevada in California. The work has now been constructed in its entirety as a permanent feature of Dia's museum in Beacon, in the size and material (weathering steel) that Heizer originally specified for it. These four diverse sculptural elements— two stacked cubic forms, one larger and one smaller (North); a cone (South); a triangular trough (West); and an inverted truncated cone (East)—together measure more than 125 feet in length, and sink from the floor of the gallery to a depth of 20 feet. When the work was first developed, such dimensions had no precedent in the art of recent times.

Heizer prefers the term size to scale in descriptions of his work, in part to emphasize the factual and visual implications of the actual distance traversed by the eye or on foot in viewing it. The sheer physical dimensions of North, East, South, West, and its physical integration into, or displacement of, the fabric of the Dia building, force an entirely different viewing experience from that of traditional sculpture in the round, an experience that is a function less of movement to allow multiple viewpoints than of the extended journey in time and space required to comprehend it. And the fact that the sculpture literally displaces the floor on which the visitor walks creates a sense of potential physical danger that further challenges the viewing experience.

The architectural scale and construction of Heizer's work, particularly Double Negative and City, begun in 1970 and still under construction in Nevada, often call forth comparisons to the megalithic monuments of ancient cultures. The son of an anthropologist, Heizer acknowledges numerous ancient sources for some of his forms but sees the comparison as more apt in the realm of effect than of specific reference:
It is interesting to build a sculpture that attempts to create an atmosphere of awe. Small works are said to do this but it is not my experience. Immense, architecturally sized sculpture creates both the object and the atmosphere. Awe is a state of mind equivalent to religious experience, I think if people feel commitment they feel something has been transcended. . . . I think that large sculptures produced in the '60s and '70s by a number of artists were reminiscent of the time when societies were committed to the construction of massive, significant works of art.1
The simplified, monumental geometric forms of North, East, South, West also share affinities with futuristic Constructivist sculpture and modernist architecture. In sum, the piece suggests the underlying Euclidean lexicon of basic three-dimensional forms—box, cone, and wedge—essential for all sculpture, ancient and modern. Going more deeply still, the forms suggest the molecular crystalline morphology from which all physical shapes in matter are derived.2

The emphasis on elemental vocabularies of form and gesture is key to Heizer's work. His most massive single (positive) sculptural shape, 45°, 90°, 180°/Geometric Extraction, is a focal point of his ongoing City project; he also created a slightly smaller version (made of industrial corrugated cardboard) of it for an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, in 1984. The work comprises eighteen diverse geometric forms, but its title refers to its feature elements, three rectangular blocks respectively placed at a forty-five-degree angle, vertically, and horizontally. Set on a rectangular plaza, the forms are separate volumes cut from a single triangular monolith that was itself a by-product of a drilling plan that Heizer originally developed for the removal of masses of stone block from a cliff for a vertical sculpture. As in Dragged Mass (1971), which is the result of earth displaced by literally dragging a massive thirty-ton block of stone over the ground, Heizer's "forms" are sometimes less designs than the results of a practical physical process.

Another outdoor work, Adjacent, Against, Upon (1976), comprises three poured-concrete geometric shapes, each so paired with a comparably huge natural rock as to enumerate the possible relation ships between a movable object and a fixed one: as the title describes, one rock is adjacent to, one is against, and one stands upon its concrete counterpart.3 The title 45°, 90°, 180° describes another essential axiom of three-dimensional potential: any object can stand, lean, or lie in relationship to a horizontal and a vertical plane. Similarly, the title North, East, South, West— defining the cardinal points of the compass as well as describing in total the 360° plane of the floor or ground—suggests a primary set of conditions that rest at the core of more complex variations.

Described like this by the artist himself in his titles, Heizer's work can seem less art than a collection of data or a list of fundamental laws of sculpture. Yet, to the contrary, these matter-of-fact titles only partially account for the experiential effects of each sculpture, because the translation of any abstract principle into actual form in time and space involves countless formal decisions. Even the most minimal artistic intentions, then, are infused with the unique perspective and biases of the artist and of the culture within which the work is made. The "minimal" shapes in Heizer's sculpture abound with references to the objects and architectures of ancient cultures, to the language of sculpture, and even to the underlying crystalline morphology defining all shapes. But what lies at the core of Heizer's art is his extreme reduction of such myriad specific sources.

Ancient sculpture may have specific commemorative or religious meaning to convey, but for Heizer it generates its sense of awe through its intense "commitment" to making an "architecturally sized" work that becomes "both the object and the atmosphere." Those issues of commitment and scale can equally be embodied in the contemporary artist's intense and self-reflexive process of abstraction—even negation— with the same overall results.



Notes

1. Michael Heizer, in an interview with Julia Brown, in Brown, ed., Michael Heizer: Sculpture in Reverse (Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1984), p. 33.

2. On crystalline morphology, Heizer references James D. Dana, Manual of Mineralogy and Petrography (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1889).

3. The two materials, concrete and natural rock, are also contrasted by their different crystalline morphology.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

de Maria







Walter de Maria
"Lightning Field"

The Lightning Field, 1977, by the American sculptor Walter De Maria, is a work of Land Art situated in a remote area of the high desert of southwestern New Mexico. It is comprised of 400 polished stainless steel poles installed in a grid array measuring one mile by one kilometer. The poles—two inches in diameter and averaging 20 feet and 7½ inches in height—are spaced 220 feet apart and have solid pointed tips that define a horizontal plane. A sculpture to be walked in as well as viewed, The Lightning Field is intended to be experienced over an extended period of time, and visitors are encouraged to spend as much time as possible in it alone, especially during sunset and sunrise. In order to provide this opportunity, Dia offers overnight visits during the months of May through October.

Commissioned and maintained by Dia Art Foundation, The Lightning Field is recognized internationally as one of the late-twentieth century's most significant works of art and exemplifies Dia's commitment to the support of art projects whose nature and scale exceed the limits normally available within the traditional museum or gallery. Dia also maintains two other of De Maria's projects, both located in New York City: The Broken Kilometer, 1979, and The New York Earth Room, 1977. Another large-scale work by De Maria—The Equal Area Series (1976-90)—is currently installed at Dia:Beacon, Dia's museum for its permanent collection north of Manhattan in Beacon, New York.

Art 115 ( Vienna AKtionist, Fluxus, Arte Povera)

Link con información extensa sobre los Accionistas:

http://www.freewebs.com/vienna-actionists/index.htm



Nitsch
"placer material"



Brus



Filliou
"Música Telepática"




Eric Dietman
"unwell saw"



Manzoni



Daniel Sperri



Soto



Luciano Fabro



Fontana



Pistoletto



Piero Manzoni



Soto



Lucio Fontana



Jesus Rafael Soto



Luciano Fabro



Pistoletto

Chris Burden (performance art) ART 115








Chris Burden: "My God, are they
going to leave me here to die?"

by Roger Ebert / May 25, 1975

At 8:20 p.m., the body artist Chris Burden entered a large gallery of the Museum of Contemporary Art, did not look at his audience of 400 or more, set a clock for midnight, and lay down on the floor beneath a large sheet of plate glass that was angled against the wall.

So began on April 11 a deceptively simple piece of conceptual art that would eventually involve the imaginations of thousands of Chicagoans who had never heard of Burden, would cause the museum to fear for Burden's life, and would end at a time and in a way that Burden did not remotely anticipate.

"White Light/White Heat": Burden remained on the platform in the corner from February 8 to March 1, 1975, without eating, and was not seen or heard the entire time.

The piece began, in a sense, a month earlier, when I was interviewing Burden at the Arts Club of Chicago in the company of Ira Licht, the museum's curator. At that time Burden had just completed a piece in a New York art gallery that involved his living for three weeks on a triangular platform set so high against one of the gallery's walls that no one could see for sure if he was really up there. He took no nourishment except celery juice.

The piece had been spooky, mystical, Burden was saying. There had been something infuriating, for some of the visitors to the gallery, in the notion that a human presence was up there in the shadows under the ceiling, not speaking, not doing anything, just waiting.

Some of the visitors tried to take running jumps up the wall in an attempt to see Burden, or a hand, or a shoe, or a couple of eyeballs in the darkness. Others took it on trust that he was there. Burden heard one young man telling his friend that the feeling in the gallery was almost spiritual: "He can hear us, and he doesn't answer, but he can't help listening...it's like God."

Burden had been invited to Chicago to participate in an exhibition of "conceptual art" at the museum. Earlier that morning, he'd visited the gallery where he'd be performing, and now at lunch he said he wasn't sure yet what he would do, but he had a few ideas.

Would it be fair, Ira Licht asked, to ask for some rough estimate of how long the piece might last?

No, Burden said, it wouldn't. A piece lasting 45 seconds might be richer than one lasting two hours.

Licht said there might be a problem if some of the museum's members arrived a few minutes late and the piece was already over. Well, Burden sighed, he couldn't please all of the people all of the time. And it was at that moment that the idea for his April 11 performance came to him...

The talk at the luncheon moved on to some of Burden's earlier pieces, and inevitably to the performance by which he earned his master's thesis at the University of California at Irvine: He had himself locked into a locker measuring 2-by-3-by-3 feet for five days; there was a five-galloon jug of water in the locker above him and, with admirable logic, an empty five-gallon container in the locker below him. Word of the piece had spread all over the campus, and hundreds of students had come to talk to him through the locker's grillwork. One of the beauties of the piece, Burden said, was that, of course, he had to listen: "I was a box with ears and a voice."

On another occasion, Burden had himself manacled with brass rings to a concrete floor, flanked by two buckets of water with live electric wires in them. The audience was admitted, and trusted not to knock over a bucket and electrocute the artist. "I had absolute faith that they wouldn't," Burden said. "After all...I'm not suicidal."

For other works Burden had himself nailed to the roof of a Volkswagen, and shot in the arm with a rifle ("It was supposed to be a graze wound, but the marksman missed"). These more violent pieces tended to attract more attention, he said, but some of his quieter pieces were perhaps more interesting. The idea in conceptual art is that the artist causes experiences to happen to himself, and then ruminates on the interaction between the self and the experience; an audience may be permitted to observe, but is not essential.

When he returned to Chicago in April, Burden told the museum he would require the large industrial-style clock, the sheet of plate glass, and nothing else. The clock was fastened to the wall and the sheet glass was leaning against it at a 45-degree angle when the museum's doors were opened at 8 p.m.

An unusually large crowd filed in, attracted perhaps by publicity about Burden's previous performances. There was a slight carnival atmosphere. The tone was muted somewhat because of a large number of spectators who were seriously interested in body art, but all the same a definite feeling existed in the room that some people had come to see blood.

At 8:20, Burden entered the gallery, set the clock for midnight and laid down under the glass. He was wearing a Navy blue sweater and pants, and jogging shoes. He let his hands rest easily at his sides and looked up at the ceiling, blinking occasionally. He could not see the clock.

The audience perhaps expected more. There was a pregnant period of silence, about 10 minutes, and when at the end of it nothing else had happened, there were a few loud whistles and sporadic outbursts of clapping. Burden did not react. At various times during the next two hours, audience members tried to approach Burden with advice, greetings, exhortations, and a red carnation. They were politely but firmly kept away by the museum attendants. A girl threw her brassiere at the glass; it was taken away by a smiling guard.

At 10:30 p.m., when I left, the crowd had dwindled down to perhaps 100. I came back to the Sun-Times to write a mildly quizzical article, and then called Alene Valkanas, the museum's publicist, to ask if Burden was still on the floor.

"Yes, he is," she said. "It's a really strange scene here right now. There are about 40 people left, and they're all very quiet. Burden doesn't move. It was more like a circus before; but now it's more like a shrine...very mysterious and beautiful."

I filed the story with a pre-written editor's note: "At (fill in the time and day), Chris Burden ended his self-imposed vigil." The editor's note was never to run.

I left to meet friends for a drink, and we talked about Burden and what he was up to. There was the suggestion that this was another of his danger pieces, that eventually someone would become impatient enough to throw something at the plate glass and break it, that Burden's immobility was an impudent invitation of violence toward himself. Nobody had a better idea.

The room was crowded and happy and noisy, but I felt my thoughts being pulled back to that vast, empty gallery with the sheet glass leaning against one wall. At 1:15 a.m., I went to the pay telephone and called Alene. She said Burden was still on the floor. I said the hell with it and drove back downtown to the museum. Burden had not moved.

Two of the museum guards still remained (one of them, Herman Peoples, would become so involved in the piece that he would voluntarily share the vigil with Burden, vowing not to leave until it was over). There was a television reporter, Rich Samuels of WMAQ, sitting on a mat of foam rubber, and a young couple who left soon after I arrived. Two banks of spotlights illuminated Burden against the wall, and the other lights had been turned out; a zaftig nude by Gaston Lachaise lounged in the shadows.

"He doesn't move except for what look like isometric flexings," Alene Valkanas said "He flexes his fingers sometimes, and once in a while you can see his toes flexing."

Burden seemed removed to a great distance. He was not asleep. There was no way to tell if he was in a meditative trance, or had hypnotized himself, or was fully aware of his surroundings. After an hour, I left very quietly, as if from a church.

The next day I'd planned to drive down to Urbana, but before I left I called the museum. It was noon; Burden had still not moved, the museum said. Fifteen hours and 40 minutes.

During the drive downstate, my thoughts kept returning to him, and I wondered what he was thinking and how he felt, and if he were thirsty, and if he had to piss. The radio stations had picked up on the piece by now, and were inserting progress reports on their newscast. Disc jockeys were finding the whole thing hilarious.

On Sunday, driving back to Chicago, I stopped at the Standard Oil truck stop in Gilman to call the museum. Burden had not moved. The time was 2:30 p.m. Forty-two hours and ten minutes. I came into the office, where I learned that Ira Licht and other museum authorities were consulting specialists to determine whether Burden's life was in danger. A urologist said no one could go more than perhaps 48 hours without urinating and not risk uremic poisoning. Burden hadn't had anything to drink, but that was not a problem at the moment, apparently; since he was not exercising he would not dehydrate dangerously in only two days.

Alene Valkanas called at a little before 6 p.m.

"The piece ended at 5:20," she said. Forty-five hours. "We felt a moral obligation not to interfere with Burden's intentions, but we felt we couldn't stand by and allow him to do serious physical harm to himself. There was a possibility he was in such a deep trance that he didn't have control over his will. We decided to place a pitcher of water next to his head and see if he would drink from it. The moment we put the water down, Chris got up, walked into the next room, returned with a hammer and an envelope, and smashed the clock, stopping it."

The envelope, sealed, contained Burden's explanation of the piece. It consisted, he had written, of three elements: The clock, the glass, and himself. The piece would continue, he said, until the museum staff acted on one of the three elements. By providing the pitcher of water, they had done so.

"I was prepared to lie in this position indefinitely," he continued. "The responsibility for ending the piece rested with the museum staff but they were always unaware of this crucial aspect." The piece had been titled "Doomed."

The idea for the piece, Burden explained later, had come during our lunch with Licht: "I thought, if he's concerned about how long the piece will be, I'll do a piece in which he has complete control over the length."

"My God," Alene Valkanas said. "All we had to do was end it ourselves, and we thought the rules of the piece required us to do nothing."

During the 45 hours, Burden had been in psychological danger, perhaps, but not in physical danger; he had urinated, but the museum staff had not noted the signs on his navy-blue dungarees. He had been thirsty and hungry, Burden said, and he had been completely conscious at all times except for some fleeting periods of sleep. He had not used a self-imposed trance, or yoga, or anything else except self-discipline to keep himself lying there.

"I thought perhaps the piece would last several hours," Burden said. "I thought maybe they'd come up and say, okay, Chris, it's 2 a.m. and everybody's gone home and the guards are on overtime and we have to close up. That would have ended the piece, and I would have broken the clock, recording the elapsed time.

"On the first night, when I realized they weren't going to stop the piece, I was pleased and impressed that they had placed the integrity of the piece ahead of the institutional requirements of the museum.

"On the second night, I thought, my God, don't they care anything at all about me? Are they going to leave me here to die?"

Funny Games US

Michael Haneke ha decidido re-hacer su obra maestra Funny Games, escena por escena, pero en ingles, una copia exacta de la peli original para asi evitar un remake ridículo de los estudios americanos. Estará lista America???



trailer 2007




trailer 1997


entrevista con el director


Art 115

1. Trabajos sonoros por John Lennon y Yoko Ono:
http://www.ubu.com/aspen/aspen7/audio7B.html

2. Estudiar estas ediciones de Aspen Editions, son de los años '70:

a. Performance Art:

http://www.ubu.com/aspen/aspen6A/index.html

b. Leer el ensayo de Roland Barthes "Dead of the Author":

http://www.ubu.com/aspen/aspen5and6/threeEssays.html#barthes

c. Ver estos videos de Lazlo Moholy-Nagy y Robert Raushenberg:

http://www.ubu.com/aspen/aspen5and6/film.html

Notes on Camp por Susan Sontag (art 115)

Notes On "Camp"

by Susan Sontag

Published in 1964.

Many things in the world have not been named; and many things, even if they have been named, have never been described. One of these is the sensibility -- unmistakably modern, a variant of sophistication but hardly identical with it -- that goes by the cult name of "Camp."

A sensibility (as distinct from an idea) is one of the hardest things to talk about; but there are special reasons why Camp, in particular, has never been discussed. It is not a natural mode of sensibility, if there be any such. Indeed the essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration. And Camp is esoteric -- something of a private code, a badge of identity even, among small urban cliques. Apart from a lazy two-page sketch in Christopher Isherwood's novel The World in the Evening (1954), it has hardly broken into print. To talk about Camp is therefore to betray it. If the betrayal can be defended, it will be for the edification it provides, or the dignity of the conflict it resolves. For myself, I plead the goal of self-edification, and the goad of a sharp conflict in my own sensibility. I am strongly drawn to Camp, and almost as strongly offended by it. That is why I want to talk about it, and why I can. For no one who wholeheartedly shares in a given sensibility can analyze it; he can only, whatever his intention, exhibit it. To name a sensibility, to draw its contours and to recount its history, requires a deep sympathy modified by revulsion.

Though I am speaking about sensibility only -- and about a sensibility that, among other things, converts the serious into the frivolous -- these are grave matters. Most people think of sensibility or taste as the realm of purely subjective preferences, those mysterious attractions, mainly sensual, that have not been brought under the sovereignty of reason. They allow that considerations of taste play a part in their reactions to people and to works of art. But this attitude is naïve. And even worse. To patronize the faculty of taste is to patronize oneself. For taste governs every free -- as opposed to rote -- human response. Nothing is more decisive. There is taste in people, visual taste, taste in emotion - and there is taste in acts, taste in morality. Intelligence, as well, is really a kind of taste: taste in ideas. (One of the facts to be reckoned with is that taste tends to develop very unevenly. It's rare that the same person has good visual taste and good taste in people and taste in ideas.)

Taste has no system and no proofs. But there is something like a logic of taste: the consistent sensibility which underlies and gives rise to a certain taste. A sensibility is almost, but not quite, ineffable. Any sensibility which can be crammed into the mold of a system, or handled with the rough tools of proof, is no longer a sensibility at all. It has hardened into an idea . . .

To snare a sensibility in words, especially one that is alive and powerful,1 one must be tentative and nimble. The form of jottings, rather than an essay (with its claim to a linear, consecutive argument), seemed more appropriate for getting down something of this particular fugitive sensibility. It's embarrassing to be solemn and treatise-like about Camp. One runs the risk of having, oneself, produced a very inferior piece of Camp.

These notes are for Oscar Wilde.

"One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art."
- Phrases & Philosophies for the Use of the Young

1. To start very generally: Camp is a certain mode of aestheticism. It is one way of seeing the world as an aesthetic phenomenon. That way, the way of Camp, is not in terms of beauty, but in terms of the degree of artifice, of stylization.

2. To emphasize style is to slight content, or to introduce an attitude which is neutral with respect to content. It goes without saying that the Camp sensibility is disengaged, depoliticized -- or at least apolitical.

3. Not only is there a Camp vision, a Camp way of looking at things. Camp is as well a quality discoverable in objects and the behavior of persons. There are "campy" movies, clothes, furniture, popular songs, novels, people, buildings. . . . This distinction is important. True, the Camp eye has the power to transform experience. But not everything can be seen as Camp. It's not all in the eye of the beholder.

4. Random examples of items which are part of the canon of Camp:

Zuleika Dobson
Tiffany lamps
Scopitone films
The Brown Derby restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in LA
The Enquirer, headlines and stories
Aubrey Beardsley drawings
Swan Lake
Bellini's operas
Visconti's direction of Salome and 'Tis Pity She's a Whore
certain turn-of-the-century picture postcards
Schoedsack's King Kong
the Cuban pop singer La Lupe
Lynn Ward's novel in woodcuts, God's Man
the old Flash Gordon comics
women's clothes of the twenties (feather boas, fringed and beaded dresses, etc.)
the novels of Ronald Firbank and Ivy Compton-Burnett
stag movies seen without lust

5. Camp taste has an affinity for certain arts rather than others. Clothes, furniture, all the elements of visual décor, for instance, make up a large part of Camp. For Camp art is often decorative art, emphasizing texture, sensuous surface, and style at the expense of content. Concert music, though, because it is contentless, is rarely Camp. It offers no opportunity, say, for a contrast between silly or extravagant content and rich form. . . . Sometimes whole art forms become saturated with Camp. Classical ballet, opera, movies have seemed so for a long time. In the last two years, popular music (post rock-'n'-roll, what the French call yé yé) has been annexed. And movie criticism (like lists of "The 10 Best Bad Movies I Have Seen") is probably the greatest popularizer of Camp taste today, because most people still go to the movies in a high-spirited and unpretentious way.

6. There is a sense in which it is correct to say: "It's too good to be Camp." Or "too important," not marginal enough. (More on this later.) Thus, the personality and many of the works of Jean Cocteau are Camp, but not those of André Gide; the operas of Richard Strauss, but not those of Wagner; concoctions of Tin Pan Alley and Liverpool, but not jazz. Many examples of Camp are things which, from a "serious" point of view, are either bad art or kitsch. Not all, though. Not only is Camp not necessarily bad art, but some art which can be approached as Camp (example: the major films of Louis Feuillade) merits the most serious admiration and study.

"The more we study Art, the less we care for Nature."
- The Decay of Lying

7. All Camp objects, and persons, contain a large element of artifice. Nothing in nature can be campy . . . Rural Camp is still man-made, and most campy objects are urban. (Yet, they often have a serenity -- or a naiveté -- which is the equivalent of pastoral. A great deal of Camp suggests Empson's phrase, "urban pastoral.")

8. Camp is a vision of the world in terms of style -- but a particular kind of style. It is the love of the exaggerated, the "off," of things-being-what-they-are-not. The best example is in Art Nouveau, the most typical and fully developed Camp style. Art Nouveau objects, typically, convert one thing into something else: the lighting fixtures in the form of flowering plants, the living room which is really a grotto. A remarkable example: the Paris Métro entrances designed by Hector Guimard in the late 1890s in the shape of cast-iron orchid stalks.

9. As a taste in persons, Camp responds particularly to the markedly attenuated and to the strongly exaggerated. The androgyne is certainly one of the great images of Camp sensibility. Examples: the swooning, slim, sinuous figures of pre-Raphaelite painting and poetry; the thin, flowing, sexless bodies in Art Nouveau prints and posters, presented in relief on lamps and ashtrays; the haunting androgynous vacancy behind the perfect beauty of Greta Garbo. Here, Camp taste draws on a mostly unacknowledged truth of taste: the most refined form of sexual attractiveness (as well as the most refined form of sexual pleasure) consists in going against the grain of one's sex. What is most beautiful in virile men is something feminine; what is most beautiful in feminine women is something masculine. . . . Allied to the Camp taste for the androgynous is something that seems quite different but isn't: a relish for the exaggeration of sexual characteristics and personality mannerisms. For obvious reasons, the best examples that can be cited are movie stars. The corny flamboyant female-ness of Jayne Mansfield, Gina Lollobrigida, Jane Russell, Virginia Mayo; the exaggerated he-man-ness of Steve Reeves, Victor Mature. The great stylists of temperament and mannerism, like Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Tallulah Bankhead, Edwige Feuillière.

10. Camp sees everything in quotation marks. It's not a lamp, but a "lamp"; not a woman, but a "woman." To perceive Camp in objects and persons is to understand Being-as-Playing-a-Role. It is the farthest extension, in sensibility, of the metaphor of life as theater.

11. Camp is the triumph of the epicene style. (The convertibility of "man" and "woman," "person" and "thing.") But all style, that is, artifice, is, ultimately, epicene. Life is not stylish. Neither is nature.

12. The question isn't, "Why travesty, impersonation, theatricality?" The question is, rather, "When does travesty, impersonation, theatricality acquire the special flavor of Camp?" Why is the atmosphere of Shakespeare's comedies (As You Like It, etc.) not epicene, while that of Der Rosenkavalier is?

13. The dividing line seems to fall in the 18th century; there the origins of Camp taste are to be found (Gothic novels, Chinoiserie, caricature, artificial ruins, and so forth.) But the relation to nature was quite different then. In the 18th century, people of taste either patronized nature (Strawberry Hill) or attempted to remake it into something artificial (Versailles). They also indefatigably patronized the past. Today's Camp taste effaces nature, or else contradicts it outright. And the relation of Camp taste to the past is extremely sentimental.

14. A pocket history of Camp might, of course, begin farther back -- with the mannerist artists like Pontormo, Rosso, and Caravaggio, or the extraordinarily theatrical painting of Georges de La Tour, or Euphuism (Lyly, etc.) in literature. Still, the soundest starting point seems to be the late 17th and early 18th century, because of that period's extraordinary feeling for artifice, for surface, for symmetry; its taste for the picturesque and the thrilling, its elegant conventions for representing instant feeling and the total presence of character -- the epigram and the rhymed couplet (in words), the flourish (in gesture and in music). The late 17th and early 18th century is the great period of Camp: Pope, Congreve, Walpole, etc, but not Swift; les précieux in France; the rococo churches of Munich; Pergolesi. Somewhat later: much of Mozart. But in the 19th century, what had been distributed throughout all of high culture now becomes a special taste; it takes on overtones of the acute, the esoteric, the perverse. Confining the story to England alone, we see Camp continuing wanly through 19th century aestheticism (Bume-Jones, Pater, Ruskin, Tennyson), emerging full-blown with the Art Nouveau movement in the visual and decorative arts, and finding its conscious ideologists in such "wits" as Wilde and Firbank.

15. Of course, to say all these things are Camp is not to argue they are simply that. A full analysis of Art Nouveau, for instance, would scarcely equate it with Camp. But such an analysis cannot ignore what in Art Nouveau allows it to be experienced as Camp. Art Nouveau is full of "content," even of a political-moral sort; it was a revolutionary movement in the arts, spurred on by a Utopian vision (somewhere between William Morris and the Bauhaus group) of an organic politics and taste. Yet there is also a feature of the Art Nouveau objects which suggests a disengaged, unserious, "aesthete's" vision. This tells us something important about Art Nouveau -- and about what the lens of Camp, which blocks out content, is.

16. Thus, the Camp sensibility is one that is alive to a double sense in which some things can be taken. But this is not the familiar split-level construction of a literal meaning, on the one hand, and a symbolic meaning, on the other. It is the difference, rather, between the thing as meaning something, anything, and the thing as pure artifice.

17. This comes out clearly in the vulgar use of the word Camp as a verb, "to camp," something that people do. To camp is a mode of seduction -- one which employs flamboyant mannerisms susceptible of a double interpretation; gestures full of duplicity, with a witty meaning for cognoscenti and another, more impersonal, for outsiders. Equally and by extension, when the word becomes a noun, when a person or a thing is "a camp," a duplicity is involved. Behind the "straight" public sense in which something can be taken, one has found a private zany experience of the thing.

"To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up."
- An Ideal Husband

18. One must distinguish between naïve and deliberate Camp. Pure Camp is always naive. Camp which knows itself to be Camp ("camping") is usually less satisfying.

19. The pure examples of Camp are unintentional; they are dead serious. The Art Nouveau craftsman who makes a lamp with a snake coiled around it is not kidding, nor is he trying to be charming. He is saying, in all earnestness: Voilà! the Orient! Genuine Camp -- for instance, the numbers devised for the Warner Brothers musicals of the early thirties (42nd Street; The Golddiggers of 1933; ... of 1935; ... of 1937; etc.) by Busby Berkeley -- does not mean to be funny. Camping -- say, the plays of Noel Coward -- does. It seems unlikely that much of the traditional opera repertoire could be such satisfying Camp if the melodramatic absurdities of most opera plots had not been taken seriously by their composers. One doesn't need to know the artist's private intentions. The work tells all. (Compare a typical 19th century opera with Samuel Barber's Vanessa, a piece of manufactured, calculated Camp, and the difference is clear.)

20. Probably, intending to be campy is always harmful. The perfection of Trouble in Paradise and The Maltese Falcon, among the greatest Camp movies ever made, comes from the effortless smooth way in which tone is maintained. This is not so with such famous would-be Camp films of the fifties as All About Eve and Beat the Devil. These more recent movies have their fine moments, but the first is so slick and the second so hysterical; they want so badly to be campy that they're continually losing the beat. . . . Perhaps, though, it is not so much a question of the unintended effect versus the conscious intention, as of the delicate relation between parody and self-parody in Camp. The films of Hitchcock are a showcase for this problem. When self-parody lacks ebullience but instead reveals (even sporadically) a contempt for one's themes and one's materials - as in To Catch a Thief, Rear Window, North by Northwest -- the results are forced and heavy-handed, rarely Camp. Successful Camp -- a movie like Carné's Drôle de Drame; the film performances of Mae West and Edward Everett Horton; portions of the Goon Show -- even when it reveals self-parody, reeks of self-love.

21. So, again, Camp rests on innocence. That means Camp discloses innocence, but also, when it can, corrupts it. Objects, being objects, don't change when they are singled out by the Camp vision. Persons, however, respond to their audiences. Persons begin "camping": Mae West, Bea Lillie, La Lupe, Tallulah Bankhead in Lifeboat, Bette Davis in All About Eve. (Persons can even be induced to camp without their knowing it. Consider the way Fellini got Anita Ekberg to parody herself in La Dolce Vita.)

22. Considered a little less strictly, Camp is either completely naive or else wholly conscious (when one plays at being campy). An example of the latter: Wilde's epigrams themselves.

"It's absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."
- Lady Windemere's Fan

23. In naïve, or pure, Camp, the essential element is seriousness, a seriousness that fails. Of course, not all seriousness that fails can be redeemed as Camp. Only that which has the proper mixture of the exaggerated, the fantastic, the passionate, and the naïve.

24. When something is just bad (rather than Camp), it's often because it is too mediocre in its ambition. The artist hasn't attempted to do anything really outlandish. ("It's too much," "It's too fantastic," "It's not to be believed," are standard phrases of Camp enthusiasm.)

25. The hallmark of Camp is the spirit of extravagance. Camp is a woman walking around in a dress made of three million feathers. Camp is the paintings of Carlo Crivelli, with their real jewels and trompe-l'oeil insects and cracks in the masonry. Camp is the outrageous aestheticism of Steinberg's six American movies with Dietrich, all six, but especially the last, The Devil Is a Woman. . . . In Camp there is often something démesuré in the quality of the ambition, not only in the style of the work itself. Gaudí's lurid and beautiful buildings in Barcelona are Camp not only because of their style but because they reveal -- most notably in the Cathedral of the Sagrada Familia -- the ambition on the part of one man to do what it takes a generation, a whole culture to accomplish.

26. Camp is art that proposes itself seriously, but cannot be taken altogether seriously because it is "too much." Titus Andronicus and Strange Interlude are almost Camp, or could be played as Camp. The public manner and rhetoric of de Gaulle, often, are pure Camp.

27. A work can come close to Camp, but not make it, because it succeeds. Eisenstein's films are seldom Camp because, despite all exaggeration, they do succeed (dramatically) without surplus. If they were a little more "off," they could be great Camp - particularly Ivan the Terrible I & II. The same for Blake's drawings and paintings, weird and mannered as they are. They aren't Camp; though Art Nouveau, influenced by Blake, is.

What is extravagant in an inconsistent or an unpassionate way is not Camp. Neither can anything be Camp that does not seem to spring from an irrepressible, a virtually uncontrolled sensibility. Without passion, one gets pseudo-Camp -- what is merely decorative, safe, in a word, chic. On the barren edge of Camp lie a number of attractive things: the sleek fantasies of Dali, the haute couture preciosity of Albicocco's The Girl with the Golden Eyes. But the two things - Camp and preciosity - must not be confused.

28. Again, Camp is the attempt to do something extraordinary. But extraordinary in the sense, often, of being special, glamorous. (The curved line, the extravagant gesture.) Not extraordinary merely in the sense of effort. Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not items are rarely campy. These items, either natural oddities (the two-headed rooster, the eggplant in the shape of a cross) or else the products of immense labor (the man who walked from here to China on his hands, the woman who engraved the New Testament on the head of a pin), lack the visual reward - the glamour, the theatricality - that marks off certain extravagances as Camp.

29. The reason a movie like On the Beach, books like Winesburg, Ohio and For Whom the Bell Tolls are bad to the point of being laughable, but not bad to the point of being enjoyable, is that they are too dogged and pretentious. They lack fantasy. There is Camp in such bad movies as The Prodigal and Samson and Delilah, the series of Italian color spectacles featuring the super-hero Maciste, numerous Japanese science fiction films (Rodan, The Mysterians, The H-Man) because, in their relative unpretentiousness and vulgarity, they are more extreme and irresponsible in their fantasy - and therefore touching and quite enjoyable.

30. Of course, the canon of Camp can change. Time has a great deal to do with it. Time may enhance what seems simply dogged or lacking in fantasy now because we are too close to it, because it resembles too closely our own everyday fantasies, the fantastic nature of which we don't perceive. We are better able to enjoy a fantasy as fantasy when it is not our own.

31. This is why so many of the objects prized by Camp taste are old-fashioned, out-of-date, démodé. It's not a love of the old as such. It's simply that the process of aging or deterioration provides the necessary detachment -- or arouses a necessary sympathy. When the theme is important, and contemporary, the failure of a work of art may make us indignant. Time can change that. Time liberates the work of art from moral relevance, delivering it over to the Camp sensibility. . . . Another effect: time contracts the sphere of banality. (Banality is, strictly speaking, always a category of the contemporary.) What was banal can, with the passage of time, become fantastic. Many people who listen with delight to the style of Rudy Vallee revived by the English pop group, The Temperance Seven, would have been driven up the wall by Rudy Vallee in his heyday.

Thus, things are campy, not when they become old - but when we become less involved in them, and can enjoy, instead of be frustrated by, the failure of the attempt. But the effect of time is unpredictable. Maybe Method acting (James Dean, Rod Steiger, Warren Beatty) will seem as Camp some day as Ruby Keeler's does now - or as Sarah Bernhardt's does, in the films she made at the end of her career. And maybe not.

32. Camp is the glorification of "character." The statement is of no importance - except, of course, to the person (Loie Fuller, Gaudí, Cecil B. De Mille, Crivelli, de Gaulle, etc.) who makes it. What the Camp eye appreciates is the unity, the force of the person. In every move the aging Martha Graham makes she's being Martha Graham, etc., etc. . . . This is clear in the case of the great serious idol of Camp taste, Greta Garbo. Garbo's incompetence (at the least, lack of depth) as an actress enhances her beauty. She's always herself.

33. What Camp taste responds to is "instant character" (this is, of course, very 18th century); and, conversely, what it is not stirred by is the sense of the development of character. Character is understood as a state of continual incandescence - a person being one, very intense thing. This attitude toward character is a key element of the theatricalization of experience embodied in the Camp sensibility. And it helps account for the fact that opera and ballet are experienced as such rich treasures of Camp, for neither of these forms can easily do justice to the complexity of human nature. Wherever there is development of character, Camp is reduced. Among operas, for example, La Traviata (which has some small development of character) is less campy than Il Trovatore (which has none).

"Life is too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it."
- Vera, or The Nihilists

34. Camp taste turns its back on the good-bad axis of ordinary aesthetic judgment. Camp doesn't reverse things. It doesn't argue that the good is bad, or the bad is good. What it does is to offer for art (and life) a different -- a supplementary -- set of standards.

35. Ordinarily we value a work of art because of the seriousness and dignity of what it achieves. We value it because it succeeds - in being what it is and, presumably, in fulfilling the intention that lies behind it. We assume a proper, that is to say, straightforward relation between intention and performance. By such standards, we appraise The Iliad, Aristophanes' plays, The Art of the Fugue, Middlemarch, the paintings of Rembrandt, Chartres, the poetry of Donne, The Divine Comedy, Beethoven's quartets, and - among people - Socrates, Jesus, St. Francis, Napoleon, Savonarola. In short, the pantheon of high culture: truth, beauty, and seriousness.

36. But there are other creative sensibilities besides the seriousness (both tragic and comic) of high culture and of the high style of evaluating people. And one cheats oneself, as a human being, if one has respect only for the style of high culture, whatever else one may do or feel on the sly.

For instance, there is the kind of seriousness whose trademark is anguish, cruelty, derangement. Here we do accept a disparity between intention and result. I am speaking, obviously, of a style of personal existence as well as of a style in art; but the examples had best come from art. Think of Bosch, Sade, Rimbaud, Jarry, Kafka, Artaud, think of most of the important works of art of the 20th century, that is, art whose goal is not that of creating harmonies but of overstraining the medium and introducing more and more violent, and unresolvable, subject-matter. This sensibility also insists on the principle that an oeuvre in the old sense (again, in art, but also in life) is not possible. Only "fragments" are possible. . . . Clearly, different standards apply here than to traditional high culture. Something is good not because it is achieved, but because another kind of truth about the human situation, another experience of what it is to be human - in short, another valid sensibility -- is being revealed.

And third among the great creative sensibilities is Camp: the sensibility of failed seriousness, of the theatricalization of experience. Camp refuses both the harmonies of traditional seriousness, and the risks of fully identifying with extreme states of feeling.

37. The first sensibility, that of high culture, is basically moralistic. The second sensibility, that of extreme states of feeling, represented in much contemporary "avant-garde" art, gains power by a tension between moral and aesthetic passion. The third, Camp, is wholly aesthetic.

38. Camp is the consistently aesthetic experience of the world. It incarnates a victory of "style" over "content," "aesthetics" over "morality," of irony over tragedy.

39. Camp and tragedy are antitheses. There is seriousness in Camp (seriousness in the degree of the artist's involvement) and, often, pathos. The excruciating is also one of the tonalities of Camp; it is the quality of excruciation in much of Henry James (for instance, The Europeans, The Awkward Age, The Wings of the Dove) that is responsible for the large element of Camp in his writings. But there is never, never tragedy.

40. Style is everything. Genet's ideas, for instance, are very Camp. Genet's statement that "the only criterion of an act is its elegance"2 is virtually interchangeable, as a statement, with Wilde's "in matters of great importance, the vital element is not sincerity, but style." But what counts, finally, is the style in which ideas are held. The ideas about morality and politics in, say, Lady Windemere's Fan and in Major Barbara are Camp, but not just because of the nature of the ideas themselves. It is those ideas, held in a special playful way. The Camp ideas in Our Lady of the Flowers are maintained too grimly, and the writing itself is too successfully elevated and serious, for Genet's books to be Camp.

41. The whole point of Camp is to dethrone the serious. Camp is playful, anti-serious. More precisely, Camp involves a new, more complex relation to "the serious." One can be serious about the frivolous, frivolous about the serious.

42. One is drawn to Camp when one realizes that "sincerity" is not enough. Sincerity can be simple philistinism, intellectual narrowness.

43. The traditional means for going beyond straight seriousness - irony, satire - seem feeble today, inadequate to the culturally oversaturated medium in which contemporary sensibility is schooled. Camp introduces a new standard: artifice as an ideal, theatricality.

44. Camp proposes a comic vision of the world. But not a bitter or polemical comedy. If tragedy is an experience of hyperinvolvement, comedy is an experience of underinvolvement, of detachment.

"I adore simple pleasures, they are the last refuge of the complex."
- A Woman of No Importance

45. Detachment is the prerogative of an elite; and as the dandy is the 19th century's surrogate for the aristocrat in matters of culture, so Camp is the modern dandyism. Camp is the answer to the problem: how to be a dandy in the age of mass culture.

46. The dandy was overbred. His posture was disdain, or else ennui. He sought rare sensations, undefiled by mass appreciation. (Models: Des Esseintes in Huysmans' À Rebours, Marius the Epicurean, Valéry's Monsieur Teste.) He was dedicated to "good taste."

The connoisseur of Camp has found more ingenious pleasures. Not in Latin poetry and rare wines and velvet jackets, but in the coarsest, commonest pleasures, in the arts of the masses. Mere use does not defile the objects of his pleasure, since he learns to possess them in a rare way. Camp -- Dandyism in the age of mass culture -- makes no distinction between the unique object and the mass-produced object. Camp taste transcends the nausea of the replica.

47. Wilde himself is a transitional figure. The man who, when he first came to London, sported a velvet beret, lace shirts, velveteen knee-breeches and black silk stockings, could never depart too far in his life from the pleasures of the old-style dandy; this conservatism is reflected in The Picture of Dorian Gray. But many of his attitudes suggest something more modern. It was Wilde who formulated an important element of the Camp sensibility -- the equivalence of all objects -- when he announced his intention of "living up" to his blue-and-white china, or declared that a doorknob could be as admirable as a painting. When he proclaimed the importance of the necktie, the boutonniere, the chair, Wilde was anticipating the democratic esprit of Camp.

48. The old-style dandy hated vulgarity. The new-style dandy, the lover of Camp, appreciates vulgarity. Where the dandy would be continually offended or bored, the connoisseur of Camp is continually amused, delighted. The dandy held a perfumed handkerchief to his nostrils and was liable to swoon; the connoisseur of Camp sniffs the stink and prides himself on his strong nerves.

49. It is a feat, of course. A feat goaded on, in the last analysis, by the threat of boredom. The relation between boredom and Camp taste cannot be overestimated. Camp taste is by its nature possible only in affluent societies, in societies or circles capable of experiencing the psychopathology of affluence.

"What is abnormal in Life stands in normal relations to Art. It is the only thing in Life that stands in normal relations to Art."
- A Few Maxims for the Instruction of the Over-Educated

50. Aristocracy is a position vis-à-vis culture (as well as vis-à-vis power), and the history of Camp taste is part of the history of snob taste. But since no authentic aristocrats in the old sense exist today to sponsor special tastes, who is the bearer of this taste? Answer: an improvised self-elected class, mainly homosexuals, who constitute themselves as aristocrats of taste.

51. The peculiar relation between Camp taste and homosexuality has to be explained. While it's not true that Camp taste is homosexual taste, there is no doubt a peculiar affinity and overlap. Not all liberals are Jews, but Jews have shown a peculiar affinity for liberal and reformist causes. So, not all homosexuals have Camp taste. But homosexuals, by and large, constitute the vanguard -- and the most articulate audience -- of Camp. (The analogy is not frivolously chosen. Jews and homosexuals are the outstanding creative minorities in contemporary urban culture. Creative, that is, in the truest sense: they are creators of sensibilities. The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony.)

52. The reason for the flourishing of the aristocratic posture among homosexuals also seems to parallel the Jewish case. For every sensibility is self-serving to the group that promotes it. Jewish liberalism is a gesture of self-legitimization. So is Camp taste, which definitely has something propagandistic about it. Needless to say, the propaganda operates in exactly the opposite direction. The Jews pinned their hopes for integrating into modern society on promoting the moral sense. Homosexuals have pinned their integration into society on promoting the aesthetic sense. Camp is a solvent of morality. It neutralizes moral indignation, sponsors playfulness.

53. Nevertheless, even though homosexuals have been its vanguard, Camp taste is much more than homosexual taste. Obviously, its metaphor of life as theater is peculiarly suited as a justification and projection of a certain aspect of the situation of homosexuals. (The Camp insistence on not being "serious," on playing, also connects with the homosexual's desire to remain youthful.) Yet one feels that if homosexuals hadn't more or less invented Camp, someone else would. For the aristocratic posture with relation to culture cannot die, though it may persist only in increasingly arbitrary and ingenious ways. Camp is (to repeat) the relation to style in a time in which the adoption of style -- as such -- has become altogether questionable. (In the modem era, each new style, unless frankly anachronistic, has come on the scene as an anti-style.)

"One must have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing."
- In conversation

54. The experiences of Camp are based on the great discovery that the sensibility of high culture has no monopoly upon refinement. Camp asserts that good taste is not simply good taste; that there exists, indeed, a good taste of bad taste. (Genet talks about this in Our Lady of the Flowers.) The discovery of the good taste of bad taste can be very liberating. The man who insists on high and serious pleasures is depriving himself of pleasure; he continually restricts what he can enjoy; in the constant exercise of his good taste he will eventually price himself out of the market, so to speak. Here Camp taste supervenes upon good taste as a daring and witty hedonism. It makes the man of good taste cheerful, where before he ran the risk of being chronically frustrated. It is good for the digestion.

55. Camp taste is, above all, a mode of enjoyment, of appreciation - not judgment. Camp is generous. It wants to enjoy. It only seems like malice, cynicism. (Or, if it is cynicism, it's not a ruthless but a sweet cynicism.) Camp taste doesn't propose that it is in bad taste to be serious; it doesn't sneer at someone who succeeds in being seriously dramatic. What it does is to find the success in certain passionate failures.

56. Camp taste is a kind of love, love for human nature. It relishes, rather than judges, the little triumphs and awkward intensities of "character." . . . Camp taste identifies with what it is enjoying. People who share this sensibility are not laughing at the thing they label as "a camp," they're enjoying it. Camp is a tender feeling.

(Here, one may compare Camp with much of Pop Art, which -- when it is not just Camp -- embodies an attitude that is related, but still very different. Pop Art is more flat and more dry, more serious, more detached, ultimately nihilistic.)

57. Camp taste nourishes itself on the love that has gone into certain objects and personal styles. The absence of this love is the reason why such kitsch items as Peyton Place (the book) and the Tishman Building aren't Camp.

58. The ultimate Camp statement: it's good because it's awful . . . Of course, one can't always say that. Only under certain conditions, those which I've tried to sketch in these notes.


1 The sensibility of an era is not only its most decisive, but also its most perishable, aspect. One may capture the ideas (intellectual history) and the behavior (social history) of an epoch without ever touching upon the sensibility or taste which informed those ideas, that behavior. Rare are those historical studies -- like Huizinga on the late Middle Ages, Febvre on 16th century France -- which do tell us something about the sensibility of the period.
2 Sartre's gloss on this in Saint Genet is: "Elegance is the quality of conduct which transforms the greatest amount of being into appearing."

The Matrix of Sensations por Donald Kuspit (art 115)

leer link:

http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/kuspit8-5-05.asp

When a Museum Behaves Badly ( lectura art 115)

By ROBERTA SMITH
Published: September 16, 2007
North Adams, Mass.
NY Times

WHEN a museum behaves badly, it’s never pretty. But few examples top the depressing spectacle at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

I refer to Mass MoCA’s decision to exhibit “Training Ground for Democracy,” an immense but incomplete work of installation art, despite strenuous opposition from Christoph Büchel, the Swiss artist who conceived it and oversaw its construction until his relationship with the museum dissolved in acrimony early this year. By opening this show without his assent, the museum has broken faith with the artist, the public and art itself.

The legal principles at stake in this dispute will be argued on Friday when lawyers for the museum and Mr. Büchel face off in federal court in Springfield, Mass. Each side hopes for a summary judgment against the other.

The Büchel project was an inspired, nervy move for Mass MoCA, which has struggled to find its voice since it opened eight years ago in a rehabilitated mill complex in downtown North Adams. It was the first American museum to commission one of Mr. Büchel’s dense, fraught creations, which compress masses of material and objects into historically charged labyrinthine environments through which viewers walk, climb and crawl.

And the pairing made perfect sense, given that Mass MoCA has one of the largest galleries of any museum in the United States — known as Building 5 — and annually stages big installations there.

“Training Ground for Democracy” was to be assembled at the museum’s expense, with its staff members seeking out and installing items on a long list in collaboration with Mr. Büchel. His outsize list included a two-story Cape Cod cottage, a leaflet-bomb carousel, an old bar from a tavern, a vintage movie theater and various banged-up rolling stock (a trailer, a mobile home, a bus, a truck). Nine full-size shipping containers were requested. There was even to be a re-creation of Saddam Hussein’s spider hole. But things did not go smoothly. By the end of January, and well past the scheduled Dec. 16 opening date, Mr. Büchel had departed for good and begun accusing the museum of interference, unprofessionalism and wasting his time.

The museum said it had tried mightily to gather everything on Mr. Büchel’s wish list but balked at acquiring a burnt-out fuselage of a 737 airliner. It pointed out that it had spent more than double the show’s $160,000 budget; Mr. Büchel countered that an amount had never been agreed upon.

Mass MoCA argues that it has a responsibility to deliver a show to its public. “At some point the realities of our budget, resources and staff imposed themselves,” Joe Thompson, the museum’s director, told The New York Times.

Now the components of “Training for Democracy” loom as if in a desolate ghost town, surreally camouflaged by plastic tarps in Building 5. Mass MoCA says it shrouded the elements pending a court decision that it hopes will allow it to display the installation. Mass MoCA may have been a little naïve about what it was getting into with Mr. Büchel. Artists can be difficult and demanding, and the bigger the artwork, the greater the stress on all sides. And while Mr. Büchel’s environments are huge in scale, they are also often guided by a sense of horror vacui, and so obsessively detailed that they might best be described as panoramic collage.

They’re like bristling three-dimensional history paintings: messy offices, banal living rooms, sinister hideouts, piles of old appliances or towers of newspapers, with each space telling its own story. It is as if the detritus of dozens of sad lives has been warehoused yet remains in use. Everyone has just gone out to lunch, or has been arrested.

Occasionally there are moments of respite. In an installation that Mr. Büchel carved into Michelle Maccarone’s crumbling two-story gallery on the Lower East Side in 2001, for example, I spent a calm moment crouched in a child’s classroom chair while facing a blackboard that ran floor to ceiling — the room was only four feet high — wondering what on earth would come next.

Since Mr. Büchel walked off the Mass MoCA project in January, accusations have flown back and forth like poison arrows, and it’s hard to sort out who did or didn’t do what and when.

Mr. Thompson, director of Mass MoCA, said the museum had “clearly bent over backwards” for Mr. Büchel. Yet by opening the show, covered, last spring against Mr. Büchel’s wishes and now seeking a court’s go-ahead to remove the tarps, the museum renders all of that moot. If an artist who conceived a work says that it is unfinished and should not be exhibited, it isn’t — and shouldn’t be. End of story.

(His lawyer cites a federal law that says as much, the Visual Artist Rights Act. But Mass MoCA argues that the law applies only to finished works of art.)

It’s hard for a museum to recover when it forfeits the high ground. To this day the Corcoran Gallery of Art remains infamous for canceling its 1989 exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe photographs after his work was denounced by Senator Jesse Helms, Republican of North Carolina. To conservatives’ horror, the show had been partly financed by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The meltdown at Mass MOCA is sad for all concerned, yet is also a reflection of the changes wrought since the late 1960s, as installation art evolved from renegade form into an institutional staple of ever-bigger galleries and museums.


Training Ground for Democracy
Although museums still focus most of their energy on finished works that they believe should be shown or collected, they now routinely function as patrons, using their budgets to help artists create works from scratch. They have happily become producers because these days installation artworks are often crowd pleasers, circuslike in their appeal. Viewers gasp at their scale or their sensational optical effects, as with “Sleepwalker,” the Doug Aitken video display on the Museum of Modern Art’s facades last winter.

Yet the experience can be very superficial. It’s strange to think that these big temporary installations may be the only contemporary art that some people know or enjoy. And there are dangers, including the possibility that in controlling the purse strings, a museum starts thinking of itself as a co-author who knows what the artist wants better than he or she does.

Yes, artists can be formidably difficult. The larger the artwork, the bigger the ego. Maybe Mr. Büchel was behaving like a diva. But what some call temper tantrums are often an artist’s last, furious stand for his or her art.

Initially I felt some sympathy for Mass MoCA. I was impressed that it had the courage to be the first American museum to take on Mr. Büchel, whose outsize ambition has anted up ideas implicit in Kurt Schwitters’s Merzbau environments of the 1930s, Arman’s “Le Plein” of 1960 and Gordon Matta-Clark’s sliced buildings of the ’70s.

But when the museum became set on opening the unfinished piece over Mr. Büchel’s objections, my sympathy evaporated. And when I visited MassMoCA, my sentiments curdled.

The shrouded non-Büchel is a kind of museological car crash. You can’t stop looking, but tarps or no tarps, you also want to avert your eyes, especially if you are familiar with his previous work.

Mr. Büchel contends that the display damages his reputation. It will certainly give people unfamiliar with his obsessive, history-driven aesthetic an inaccurate sense of his art, and this is indeed a form of damage. But by opening this strange quasi display, MassMoCA does even more damage to itself and to its reputation as a steward of art and as a conduit between living artists and the public.

My first thought while walking among the tarps is that no one working at the museum had ever seen a finished Büchel, which would be pretty astonishing, especially since a very large Büchel installation was on view in London while things were unraveling in North Adams. Titled “Simply Botiful,” this 13,000-square-foot London piece was commissioned by the artist’s primary dealer, Hauser & Wirth, in its huge warehouse in the Coppermill neighborhood.

Interestingly, the gallery says it cost £80,000, or about $162,000, and was assembled by Mr. Büchel and 12 assistants and workers in three weeks. This might seem to suggest that when given full artistic control, Mr. Büchel delivers.

At Mass MoCA, meanwhile, there is a sense of something gone deeply awry. In one of two smaller galleries in Building 5, the museum has removed the bar that was part of the Büchel piece to make way for “Made at Mass MoCA,” a self-serving, slapped-together display of photographs of previous installations. It accomplishes little but to suggest the frequent vacuity of those projects and underscore the possibility that the Büchel was too big a reach for the museum. Beyond that and up a flight of stairs, things get stranger still.

Here you’ll find a wall covered with Mr. Büchel’s extensive wish list, which conceptually conveys something of the surface density, historical references and regional evocations he planned to incorporate. Requested are accouterments for Mass and Baptism; a hospital bed and related medical equipment; eight voting booths; hundreds of old tires; piles of old computers; 1,000 beverage cups from a race track; 1,000 feet of barbed wire; 12 grenades and 35 pounds of bullet casings; eight body bags and 75 white protective suits; four prosthetic legs; decorations and campaign buttons from election rallies; a concession stand, popcorn and popcorn buckets; Christmas lights; and 16 large bags of corn leaves and husks.

The list scrolls along in chapterlike clusters of related items, evoking recent events in or involving the United States, including the 2000 presidential election, Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq. On the opposite wall newspaper articles and editorials about the controversy are pinned to the wall, although a scathing indictment of Mass MoCA by The Boston Globe’s art critic is absent.

The museum deserves to be scathed. Although there may be parts of the installation proper that Mr. Büchel considers finished, what is visible above and below the tarps today is barely the skeleton of a Büchel. It’s just a lot of stuff.

You are reminded of Hollywood, where directors (that is, artists) are routinely denied “final cut.” Of course, Renaissance popes often had final cut too. But I prefer to invoke the spirit of Robert Rauschenberg, who, when asked to contribute to a show of portraits of the Paris dealer Iris Clert in 1961, sent a telegram that read, “This is a portrait of Iris Clert if I say so.”

Never underestimate the amount of resentment and hostility we harbor toward artists. It springs largely from envy. They can behave quite badly, but mainly they operate with a kind of freedom and courage that other people don’t risk or enjoy. And it can lead to wondrous things.

In the end it doesn’t matter how many people toil on a work of art, or how much money is spent on it. The artist’s freedom includes the right to say, “This is not a work of art unless I say so.”

The Elements & Principles of Art and Design (Arte 102 & GEPE 3010)

The Elements & Principles of Art and Design

The elements and principles of design are standard references for the visual parts and the manipulation of those visual parts in an artwork. Applying these references to a painting, sculpture, or art piece in general is similar to the material available to a writer, filmmaker or a musician. There are a finite number of elements and principles of design, just like there are a finite number of alphabetical characters and musical notations. Yet, the manner in which this finite material is used is dependent only upon the creativity of the user.

There are many styles of design that have been developed over the ages, yet much of this visual creativity is based on the application of a short list of elements and principles of design. These are:

ELEMENTS

LINE: A line results when a mark is left by a tool of some kind. Line is also detectable as the defining edge limit of an object. Line is an abstract concept and is referred to as a one-dimensional mark - meaning it possesses only length. Yet, in order to see a drawn line it must have some weight or width. The path or movement of a point in space that creates a line.

SHAPE: A shape is an object that possesses both length and width. A line that is drawn to connect itself creates an enclosed area. This enclosed area is a shape.

FORM: A form is a three-dimensional object - it possesses length, width, and depth. A form is the actual solid object. A photograph of a form is an illusion where the three-dimensional qualities of an actual object are represented with shaded shapes.

COLOR: Color refers to the property of light to be absorbed and to reflect from a surface. The only colors able to be seen by the unaided human eye are those found in the visible color spectrum.

TEXTURE: Texture is the surface quality of an object. Textures are defined as either being tactile (how something feels) or as visual (how something looks like it would feel). Textures are often implied in a drawing or painting creating a strong tactile illusion.

SPACE: There are two kinds of space - positive and negative. Positive space, (also referred to as the field), is that area taken up, or displaced, by an object. The space remaining around that object is referred to as negative space (also referred to as the ground). Positive and negative space are interchangeable. What was positive easily becomes negative and vice versa when your point of view regarding the object changes. It's also the distance between, above, top, bottom, inside and outside of an object or element.


The principles are suggested “rules” for using the elements. Applied principles of design allow for unlimited possibilities in how the elements are utilized. Think of a musician with only one note at his disposal or an artist who only has yellow paint. He could paint an object yellow, and he could vary some of the qualities of how he used line and shape, but you would soon tire of looking at only the same yellow surfaces. Applying the principles to the work helps to keep it interesting.

PRINCIPLES

EMPHASIS: Placing an item that quickly attracts the viewer's eye establishes a focal point within your design. This is also referred to as a center of interest.

PROPORTION: Proportion is the comparison of parts to parts and parts to the whole. Notice the proportional relationships found within the parts of the human face. The head is a given shape and the features found on the face are located in specific areas and are specific sizes and shapes. These relationships can be mapped out and used as a general guideline when drawing heads.

BALANCE: Balance is an achieved state of equilibrium among the parts of a design. There are two kinds of balance - symmetrical and asymmetrical. Symmetrical balance is also referred to as formal balance and there are two types of symmetrical balance - bilateral and radial. An object that is bilaterally symmetrical can be divided in one direction and both halves will end up being equal, or nearly so (think of the human face). If an object is radially symmetrical it is equally divisible in more than one direction (think of the spokes in a wheel). If an object is asymmetrical, it is not equally divisible in any direction. Asymmetrical balance is also referred to as informal balance.

REPETITION: When objects and markings are repeated a pattern results. The eye begins to sense a relationship among similarly treated surfaces. It provides the work with a sense of unity.

VARIATION: Variation prevents repetition from becoming too monotonous and boring. When change is applied to similar objects, variation results.

RHYTHM/MOVEMENT: These principles of design are related. Rhythm refers to a means of leading a viewer's eye throughout an art work. Adding pointing, touching, and overlapping objects to your design work helps to set up a rhythm in the arrangement. Movement refers to the pattern of scanning the eye follows through the design surface.

DIRECTION: Direction is not a specific principle of design but it is a variable that can be applied to how the elements are arranged within the design space.

UNITY: When different areas of a design have similar things in common, this makes it seem as though those objects are somehow related to each other. Unity helps to harmonize the surface relationships.

LA jETTE de Chris Marker


http://tv-links.co.uk/video/4/2687/3951/25528/39752

ARTE 102 GEPE 3010 / Lecturas Historia Arte PR

1.PANORAMA HISTORICO DE LAS ARTES PLASTICAS EN PUERTO RICO
Rodolfo J. Lugo-Ferrer


(estudiantes: Este ensayo de Rodolfo J. Lugo es uno que debe ser visto/entendido como una visión independiente. 

ensayo:

Artes en PR por Rodolfo Lugo Ferrer


2.El modernismo en el arte y la arquitectura puertorriqueña.
José Ramón Alonso Lorea.


Más de veinte años después de la guerra hispanoamericana (1898), el traspaso de su condición colonial de una metrópolis a otra parece condicionar el retardo de la entrada del modernismo en las artes plásticas puertorriqueñas.

ensayo:
Arte y Arquitectura

video games/ low art or high art?



Resident Evil



Takashi Murakami


articulo publicado en :

http://arstechnica.com



Roger Ebert says games will never be as worthy as movies
By Jeremy Reimer | Published: November 30, 2005 - 04:30PM CT

Roger Ebert, the movie critic for the Chicago Sun-Times and co-host of the syndicated TV show "Ebert and Roper at the Movies" has thrown down the gauntlet on his web site by stating that video games will never be as artistically worthy as movies and literature. Ebert does not believe that this quality gap can ever be crossed, as he feels it is a fundamental limitation of the medium itself:

There is a structural reason for that: Video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control.

Whether or not interactive art can still be art is an interesting question. Modern artists such as Chin Chih Yang, (http://www.123soho.com/artists/featured/f_artist_index_artist.phtml?artnum=artidv00159&category=1.%20The%20Control%20of%20Fear), who design interactive multimedia projects as well as creating "traditional" art, would probably tell you that whether something is "art" depends on only the artist and the audience, and not the medium itself. However, there are undoubtedly more conservative artists who would dismiss "interactive multimedia projects" as not being worthy of the term art. Of course this debate is not a new one, nor has it been confined to video games. Movies and comic books both struggled (and still struggle) to receive the same level of respect as traditional media, such as literature and dramatic plays.

But is it really the "interactive" part of video games that Ebert is criticizing? To me, it seems like a convenient excuse to dismiss for all time a new form of entertainment that has not only influenced movies (with endless releases of video-game-themed movies such as Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil, etc.) but at times even seems to be in competition with cinema itself. Every time movie sales go down, some pundits start looking to the video game industry as being the source of the problem.

I don't believe the "interactive" nature of video games is what Ebert is really railing against here. While he gave a poor review to the movie Clue, which featured multiple endings, he admitted in his review that it would have been more fun for viewers to see all three endings. He seemed to be indicating that if the movie itself was of higher quality, being given a choice of endings would have made it even more entertaining. Like Clue, video games can feature multiple endings or storylines, but all of them have been written by the writer ahead of time. The fact that the player can choose between them does not make any of the choices less of a creation by the game developers.

A closer examination of Ebert's comments seems to indicate that he is critical of the artistic value of the games themselves, not their structure:

I am prepared to believe that video games can be elegant, subtle, sophisticated, challenging and visually wonderful. But I believe the nature of the medium prevents it from moving beyond craftsmanship to the stature of art. To my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers. That a game can aspire to artistic importance as a visual experience, I accept. But for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic.

Some might be eager to tell Ebert about games that he may not have ever seen or played, such as Star Control II, or Planescape Torment, where the story is given higher focus than the graphics and is at least comparable to literary fiction. Or games such as ICO, where the atmosphere and feel of the environment and characters is on par with any "serious" art film. But perhaps Ebert hasn't heard of these titles because video games in general have been deluged with an endless parade of flashy sequels and movie tie-ins that favor graphics over gameplay. Perhaps if a viable analog to the independent movie industry emerged for video games, Ebert might change his tune. But is this likely to happen?